Texans Seek Answers to Utility Grid Failures

By Bri’Anne Reid

Texas is still coping with the impact of an unexpected snowstorm that hit the state Feb. 11.

About 111 people have died from the snowstorm as of March 25, according to the Texas Tribune. 

People across the entire state experienced busted pipes, fires, loss in power, access to water, and little to no grocery stock. Because of these weather conditions and home damages, residents were forced to sleep in their cars and sleep around fireplaces to remain warm.

Due to these unexpected hardships, Texas came together to help one another best they could. Neighbors opened their homes for others to shelter and helped them to stay safe and warm. Some people made and bought cookies and hot cocoa for the kids.

Ice on roads caused hazardous conditions in a state not used to dealing with freezing precipitation. On a Fort Worth interstate, over 100 cars were involved in a crash pile up that resulted in 6 deaths and dozens of injuries

(dallasmorningnews.com).

“Houses were destroyed from fires caused by people using their ovens or space heaters to keep warm since they had no heat,” said Mike Hadnot, who recently came from Houston to visit family in Indianapolis. 

“My house is fine and running from a generator during the  power outage, but most stores nearby were out of stock and closed, and even gas stations had no gas.¨ 

This also negatively affected hospitals. Hospitals experienced food shortages and power outages. Patients who usually attended urgent care and or dialysis were to report to the hospitals for they were the only medical buildings open during this time. According to Texas Tribune, they also had to pull pool water in order to fill storage tanks and flush the toilets.

Texas top officials called on an investigation for the power outages which resulted in them not being able to identify when the power outages would end. The utilities are not regulated by the government and most were not prepared for the extra demands caused by the winter storm. Residents reacted with anger at the state’s lack of preparation for the storm.

According to the Texas Tribune, experts and news organizations pointed to unheeded warnings in a federal report that examined the 2011 winter storm and offered recommendations for preventing future problems. The report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation concluded, among other things, that “power companies and natural gas producers hadn’t properly readied their facilities for cold weather, including failing to install extra insulation, wind breaks and heaters.”